The National Insurance Office has received just under 14,000 unemployment benefit applications since the middle of March, and Government is working assiduously to ensure unemployed people receive funds shortly.
This disclosure came last night from Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley as she addressed the nation on several important matters relating to COVID-19 and Government’s response to the pandemic.
Ms. Mottley said she had asked the Chairman and Board of the NIS and the Director of Finance and Economic Affairs to put in place a separate arrangement, which they had already devised, to ensure unemployed persons receive funds quickly.
“And that separate system will see a separate group of people managing just unemployment benefits alone because we recognize that people need to have access to that money …. In many instances, people have been placed on vacation but that vacation will come to an end during the next period (the curfew which ends on May 3).
“Against that background, we have agreed that the special system and special group of additional workers will be put in place, such that the first unemployment benefit cheque should go out within the next 10 days …. Equally, that first cheque should cover not one week, but four weeks of unemployment benefit one time, to give people the opportunity to steady themselves and to plan as they go forward.”
The Prime Minister said it was necessary for Government to put this system in place in order to protect those persons who were most in need.
She noted that the unemployment benefit fund would be quickly exhausted and Government would have to find the money to recapitalize those aspects of the social security scheme that were going to be under pressure as a result of this extraordinary increase in unemployment.
Ms. Mottley explained that part of the National Insurance Office’s difficulty was that some employers had not submitted the earning schedule of the workers.
She stated that where the earning schedules were not immediately available, the National Insurance Office would have to go back and look at the average earnings of that person in order to make a judgement for the first month.
“I am using this forum to appeal to employers to please submit that earning schedule. Even if nothing else, please submit that earning schedule because it allows us to be able to process quicker,” she urged.